“The Bone Seeker” by M.J. McGrath

The Bone Seeker 9780670785803_f9847In The Bone Seeker, the third book of the Edie Kiglatuck series, M.J. McGrath has sent Edie to teach summer school in the Canadian Arctic in order to recover from the harrowing events of The Boy in the Snow. Unfortunately for everyone, one of the teenage girls from her class is found dead in a taboo lake.

Edie’s friend Sergeant Derek Palliser presses her into service. At the same time, outsider lawyer Sonia Gutierrez tries to prevent the murder investigation from derailing a hard-won clean up of a toxic military site. Navigating the beautiful but harsh summer landscape is nothing compared to the interpersonal and political battles Edie faces.

A recovering alcoholic and misfit born of two worlds, Edie uses her unique perspective to navigate the clash of the Inuit with other Inuit, with other First Nations peoples, as well as with the qalunaat (white people). Although Edie definitely has issues and by the end her food choices had me craving fruits and veg, I found her surprisingly easy to relate to. Indeed most of the characters — even the villains — were complex enough to be engaging. The Canadian Arctic in her summery finery of snow buttercup and polar chickweed is as much a character as Edie.

When I started The Bone Seeker, I knew nothing of Edie Kiglatuck, the Inuit, or the Canadian Arctic other than where it is (North!).  I was concerned I might be hopelessly lost, but McGrath slyly slipped in enough information to keep me involved, but not so much that when I read the earlier books I won’t be surprised. The book started slowly, but after I found my bearings in the unfamiliar terrain, the pace picked up, for an easy and rewarding read.

For those who like to solve the mystery before the heroine, McGrath provides plenty of inuksuit (stone navigation markers) to point the way, albeit disguised well enough for the unwinding of the story and of the story within to be a surprise.

Blending the truths of the arctic crime explosion, decaying military installations, and the stark physicality of the landscape with fiction, McGrath has created a believable world where Edie Kiglatuck explores tradition and change in an increasingly inter-connected world.

The Bone Seeker: An Edie Kiglatuk Mystery by M. J. McGrath (Viking | 9780670785803 | July 24, 2014)

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